Here is the story of J.-P.'s clogging journey. It's been a rather long journey that continues adding chapters each year. It's an incredible story that includes meeting and making so many friends along the way.
1993-1995: Entertainment Express Cloggers
October 26, 1993 - the start of the clogging odyssey would begin. I was fascinated by the sound of the taps and wanted to get them. This, however, was not an easy task. Not only had my grandparents been the ones who wanted me to get involved with clogging, but there was a contingency that had to be met as posed by my grandpa: I could get shoes (with this jingly taps) if I learned how to clog. Keep in mind I was 11 at this time, but my sister had started three months prior. After much resistance, I finally acquiesced and began my training under the direction of Bekah Thorsen. We started in her store in Hammond, then continued in studio space at Jane Berland's School of Dance in Whiting. She unfortunately moved, and I wasn't quite ready to give up my new skill after only about a year and a half.
1995-2010: Horseshoe Cloggers
April 24, 1995 - the beginning of what would be more intensive training, many friendships, a few trips, workshops, and so much more. Under the direction of Janet Kingery, I would venture to Valparaiso and Wheatfield. We danced at a variety of places over the years for classes, from an American Legion to church basements, dance studios, the barn, and eventually Janet's basement. I had my first taste of the performance life as well later that summer. My skills were rounding out beautifully, and the rest was history.
We were fortunate enough to embark on many different adventures, from fairs and festivals to a grand event in Washington, D.C. for the 4th of July in 2002. The annual wreath laying ceremony was performed by the group. Many of the workshops I attended were throughout Indiana and later Fort Mitchell, KY. These events led me to meeting so many people, quite a few of which I'm still friends with to this day.
On October 28, 2010, the Horseshoe Cloggers sadly disbanded after 18 years. My 15+ year run was ending. Over that span, not only did I start out being one of the youngest, but I also grew as both a dancer and person. The metamorphosis I underwent was something to behold. My knowledge expanded by leaps and bounds, and the genres I danced to proved there was no limit. I gained skills to essentially become the second assistant (although no official notoriety was given).
2011-present: Good Time Cloggers
March 8, 2011 - I can still remember highly debating joining. My body was beat up, and I wasn't sure I could regain my passion for continuing to dance. After four and a half months, I finally stepped foot into the studio. Tom Johnson was still in charge, and his expression when I first walked in was as if he saw a ghost. It was akin to having just landed the biggest free agent. Now a few of the dancers knew me before, but once they all realized my skills, knowledge, and talent, it didn't take long for all of them to accept and welcome me with open arms.
What was unknown at the time was this would start an unofficial training period for my eventual takeover on August 15, 2015. I had no idea this was in the works. Helping out with classes, taking the occasional lead for a performance, creating a website and Facebook page, and later organizing music for everyone will apparently do that!
All these years later, I'm still going strong. Granted, this has not been without injuries, aches, and pains, but the love and passion I gained for something that I thought would be a quick thing has turned into a remarkable experience. It's become a part of me, some may even say synonymous. Where does this journey continue to lead me? Only time will tell, but sharing my talent and joy of clogging is what means the most to me.